Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Sunday Salon: 3 Strikes, 3 Months, and 3 Years

I can't remember a week in which I had three DNF (did not finish) books land in my lap, but this here was such a week.


Even though I don't have any qualms about not finishing books, I still feel kind of bad about abandoning them ... if that makes any sense.  Maybe I can take some comfort in that two of these are both by authors with other books I enjoyed.  That's something, right?

There are some authors who I feel are better suited to the short story format rather than the novel. I say this as someone who feels I might fall into this category myself.  We writers are all supposed to want to aspire to be novelists (said with the requisite eye roll and sarcastic inflection) and short stories sometimes tend to get a bad rap in the literary world, but I happen to love both forms.

In some ways, I like short stories better. Such was the case with Amy Bloom's debut collection, Come to Me (reviewed here earlier this week, but which I actually read in the fall).  In fact, the first chapter of Love Invents Us is a story from that very collection ("Light Breaks Where No Love Shines") and I think it worked much better that way.  By page 30, I found myself not caring much about the characters and not invested in the story, so back to the library it went.

And then it was onto Sara Gruen's debut novel, Riding Lessons. Within the first 20 pages, the main character (Annemarie) suffers a spinal cord injury as a teenage equestrienne and Olympic hopeful, is in rehab for 15 months, gets married, has a teenage daughter of her own, is fired, learns that said teenage daughter is on the verge of being expelled from school, is left by her husband, and is told her father has ALS.  All this in the first 20 pages!  It was a little too much for me, so ... back to the library it went too.

And the third book I struck out with was It Could Be Worse. You Could Be Me, by Ariel Leve. I've been sampling (via my Kindle) the books on sale through that amazing 20 books for $20 Harper Perennial sale because I WANT ALL OF THEM RIGHT NOW but even $20 is a little bit too extravagant for what passes for my extremely limited discretionary income spending these days.  I know this sounds incredibly cheap of me and completely unsupportive of my writing peers, but it is what it is.

(As of last night, there was a 4th book to make it onto this week's list as a DNF, but I'm kinda pissed off about Suffer the Children: The Case Against Labeling and Medicating and an Effective Alternative - so much so that it's probably in all of our best interests if I don't say anything much more about this one right now.  Let's just say that by page 17 I was so frustrated that I couldn't read any further. I'll calm down and save this for a separate post or next week's Salon.)

So, there you go.  Three strikeouts in one week!  After all this, I needed a sense of literary accomplishment (i.e., a book I could actually FINISH) and so I turned to my own TBR shelves and fell into a time capsule from 1991.  What saved my reading week, you ask?  This.

John Grisham. Yes, that same John Grisham of The Pelican Brief and The Firm fame. My mom bought me his collection of short stories in 2009 and it sat on the TBR shelf ever since.  Earlier this year, I listened to the first two stories on audio, and liked them much more than I ever expected to.  With only five more stories to go, I thought I could get through them quickly and I was right.  These were pretty damn good. I'll have a full review up about this one at some point.

OK, so that's the 3 Strikes part of this post.  The 3 months part (no, I'm NOT among the seemingly dozens of bloggers who are pregnant) refers to the fact that after 3 months, it appears that WE JUST SOLD OUR HOUSE IN DELAWARE!!! We accepted an offer last night and signed an agreement of sale in what seemed like nanoseconds. You've been hearing me bitch about this move for quite some time now, so I thought I'd share the good news.  And it IS good news, considering the economy and whatnot, even though it is quite the lowball offer.  We're kind of upset about that and the fact that we're losing money and will wipe out our savings to get out from under this mortgage, but it's a new day, a new beginning, a new chapter in this story.

And finally, if you've managed to read this far, today is the 3rd Blogiversary of The Betty and Boo Chronicles!  Three whole years!  I have a separate post on this, but allow me to say how very much I appreciate you reading for however long you've been reading - whether it is all of that time or for the last 3 minutes.  I love this blogging community of ours and can't imagine the last 3 years without all of you.    

(Mwah!  Raises coffee cup and book d'jour -as a toast to y'all.)

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Trish said...

Sorry to hear about the strikeout. But hey, congrats on selling your house and also on your blogversary!

K A B L O O E Y said...

As they said in Broadcast News, you BURIED THE LEAD. Congrats on selling your house! That's amazing, considering the state of affairs. Got to say, who cares about dumping 3 books. Big picture's looking good. And congrats on your Blogoversary too!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Congrats on your 3 year blogiversary! That's awesome. And also on the house, even if the offer was lower than you wanted/needed.

Lisa said...

WHOOO!!! on the sale of the house. We only made $464 on ours. Better than losing money, but disappointing all the same.

Chrisbookarama said...

Happy Blogiversary!! You almost slipped that one by me there at the end.

Congrats on the sale of the house! And boo, to the DNF. I hate when that happens. I wonder if I'm ever going to find a good book again, but then I do.

Book Dragon said...

sorry about the DNF but I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Suffer the Children

Congrats!!! on selling the house - what a relief that must be!

three years? Holy Hannah that's awesome! ;-)

Florinda said...

I'm late to your blogiversary party, but I'm very glad you're part of this blogging community :-). And congrats on both selling the house and (hopefully) breaking your DNF streak! Grisham used to be one of my go-to writers; I'm not much for reading short stories, but I've heard some good things about that collection.

Iliana said...

Oh so much in one post :)

First, yay for selling your house and new beginnings. I bet you are just glad it's done.

Congrats on your bloggiversary and here's wishing you a year with no DNFs!

Laura @ I'm Booking It said...

Congratulations on your 3 months and your 3 years!

Bummer about the 3 strikes, I admire your being willing to decide that quickly that a book isn't working for you-- with so many great books out there, why suffer through the wrong book? I often do, though.

Have a great week (reading), month (in your new house) & year (with your blog)!

Elisabeth said...

Congrats on the blog anniversary and sale of the house! I I am sure a great weight has now been lifted off your shoulders.
As for the DNF's, it happens, sometimes books just don't speak to you.

Loved the pictures, you are just like my daughter who also takes many pictures, which is not a bad thing because you really feel like you were there yourself!